The early report card for The Lake and Stars this season should read: “Plays well with others.”
Still flushed from all the praise that greeted their Valentine’s lingerie collection for Kate Spade, the New York indie label last week unveiled a big new collabo with Swedish mega-brand H&M.
The Lake and Stars was the first lingerie label chosen to be showcased by H&M’s newest retail brand, called & Other Stories. Launched in Europe last month, & Other Stories aims to bring H&M’s price-driven, fast-fashion strategy to the world of progressive (and higher priced) fashion by partnering with trendsetting designers on collaborative sets (which they call Co-Labs) as well as its own private label merchandise.
So far, H&M has opened & Other Stories locations in London, Copenhagen and Stockholm. More European stores are in the works, but it is unclear when the concept stores will reach North America or begin selling online here.
What is certain, though, is that this is a gigantic leap forward for The Lake and Stars, taking its inimitable mélange of art, politics, sexiness and fun to the streets of European capitals, where style is everything.
A year in development, the TL&S collection for H&M is a substantial one that is meant to introduce the European consumer to some of the label’s signatures (such as the hook-and-eye bra closures, below), its fondness for textured fabrics and its playful use off-kilter, asymmetrical lines.
Some of the pieces in this lingerie-loungewear set will seem familiar to longtime TL&S fans in North America, but there are many new goodies that reveal the kind of out-of-the-box thinking the label is renowned for. Our favorite is the baby blue jumpsuit (main photo above), which seems purpose-built for some summertime lingerie-as-outerwear experimenting.
(Warning: This piece might be sold out; it has already disappeared from the H&M webshop. At the same time, TL&S is promising that more styles — including swimwear — will be posted as product reaches the stores.)
One of the advantages to the consumer from this sort of collaboration is the impact on prices: H&M is a world leader in the price-driven fast-fashion industry, and the & Other Stories spinoff aims to bring the same strategy to cutting-edge designer goods. The Lake and Stars pieces start around $15 (USD) for briefs and $30 for a soft bra — much, much lower than comparable goods in a U.S. boutique, though still above the bargain-basement prices you’re used to seeing at H&M.
The new collection was apparently influenced by “1960s revolutionary women” (that could be quite a crowd), and expresses themes of freedom and liberation with the interplay of bold straps and bits of hardware against soft pastel shades like coral and powder blue.
In its promotional material for this set, H&M cites The Lake and Stars for its vision of a “fresh new femininity” based on “audacity and humor”.
The company also makes a point of drawing attention to designers Maayan Zilbermann and Nikki Dekker with glamorous in-store photos (above) and behind-the-scenes shots on their website. And why not? The gorgeous design duo project a kind of sexy-tough confidence that makes them ideal billboards for their own label.
“We like working with people who we like,” Anna Teurmell, the design head for & Other Stories, told Women’s Wear Daily to explain how the company selected its new indie collaborators. Which, if you recall, is almost exactly what Kate Spade said about why she chose The Lake and Stars for this spring’s diffusion line.
If there’s any downside to this development, it’s that European girls will get their hands on these pieces long before North Americans do. The new H&M collabo appears to be the conspicuously ‘missing’ Spring 2013 collection from The Lake and Stars, which hasn’t delivered a full new set for the North American market in almost a year.
But this label is worth waiting for: with each new success, Maayan and Nikki seem to emerge creatively charged and brimming with new ideas that push their brand in previously unimagined directions. The future is so bright, in fact, that we strongly encourage them to include a line of TL&S branded sunnies with their next collection.
Here’s a gallery of some of the product range from the TL&S collaboration for & Other Stories — look for sleek bodysuits, chemises, a sweet satin robe and the fluttery, feminine blue crop top and briefs combo.